Guest Editorial: AB5 relief bills voted down in committee

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This editorial is from the Orange County Register:

Assembly Bill 5 is one of the worst pieces of legislation to make it out of Sacramento in recent years, a distinction that is no small feat.

The law, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, restricts the circumstances under which workers can work as independent contractors.

Ostensibly done in the name of workers, but mainly about making it easier to unionize workers and give the state further control over the gig economy, the law has deprived countless numbers of Californians of their livelihoods while also narrowing the range of opportunities for many more.

Already a poorly written law before the coronavirus pandemic, it makes even less sense now.

To address this flawed law, state Sens. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, and Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, offered bills to suspend and repeal the law.

Grove’s Senate Bill 806 sought to repeal the law outright, while Moorlach’s sought to suspend the law until 2022.

On May 14, the Senate Labor, Public Employment, and Retirement Committee rejected both bills.

Sens. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, voted against advancing the bills.

Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, was the only one who realized the destructiveness of the law and voted in support of advancing both bills.

“It’s unreasonable not to suspend AB5 — a flawed bill that put tens of thousands of Californians out of work,” said Moorlach after the rejection of his bill. “In the midst of record unemployment, the Legislature should be doing everything in its power to help independent contractors earn a living, not kill livelihoods.”

He’s right.

The fact that AB5 required numerous sectors to be specifically exempted from the law when it was passed, and further exemptions are on the way, reveal how flawed it is just as a piece of legislation.

But even worse is the real-world impact the law has had and will continue to have so long as it remains on the books. Californians must continue to appeal to state lawmakers for changes to the law, or better yet suspension or repeal, and must remember how their representatives voted come election time.

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